Ancient Glass Blog of The Allaire Collection


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on December 15, 2020

Merovingian claw beaker


Above: 5th-6th-century Merovingian claw beaker, found in Bellenberg-Vöhringen (Bavaria) Germany. This example from the Metropolitan Museum of Art is unique for this period due to the claws being in a contrasting color and the body of clear transparent glass.



Claw beaker is a name given by archaeologists to a type of drinking vessel often found as a grave good in 5th to 7th century AD in Merovingian and Anglo-Saxon burials.  Found in northern France, eastern England, Germany and the Low countries. It is plain conical beaker with small, claw-like handles or lugs protruding from the sides made from gobs of molted glass applied to the beaker’s walls. The unique shape may have been derived from the bag beaker pictured below showing similar form to the second vessel which has the beginnings of lugs on its sides.


The center of manufacturing was probably in Germany.  The glass beaker can be found in tints of brown, blue, yellow, light green and colorless.  The earliest date of these being made seems to be around 400 AD and this unusual glass form remained popular throughout the 5th, 6th and 7th Centuries. These claw beakers are the most complex of glass vessels from the early Medieval period and although their popularity survived almost into the 8th century very few complete and intact examples survive.  Below are an amazing group of these beakers which clearly demonstrate the advance glassmaking skill needed to create their features and also show how they have miraculously survived the burial conditions some even unbroken and intact. Paraphrased from Journal of Antiques and Collectables.

Click on the photographs to enlarge and for more information on the object.


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